Section III: Support: Email Lists

The New Zealand Digital Library Team (NZDL) provides support through several email distribution lists, including lists for (a) Greenstone users, (b) Greenstone developers, and (c) Greenstone version 3. There are also language- and region-specific lists with various levels of affiliation with the New Zealand Digital Library Team. Some respondents who participated in this survey subscribe to email distribution lists in Spanish and French.

Through the survey, information about the number of lists to which respondents subscribe, which lists, and when and why they read email messages was collected. Whether respondents received in-depth questions relating to email behaviors was determined with two screening questions. The first screening question was one that asked the level of importance of the email lists as a support mechanisms (answer selections ranged from “Very Important” to “Not Important”, those who did not answer or selected “Not Applicable” were not included). The second screening question asked respondents to which email lists they subscribed, if any. If a respondent either indicated a level of importance for email lists as a support mechanism, and/or indicated an email list to which s/he subscribed, that respondent was presented with a set of questions that expanded on email list use behaviors. In total, 70 respondents answered at least one question in this set of questions. Of these, 59 indicated s/he subscribed to one or more specific email lists. Of the 59 respondents, over half (freq.=31; 52.5%) subscribe to just one distribution list; a substantial number (freq.=21; 35.6%) subscribe to two lists, and several (freq.=7; 11.9%) subscribe to three lists. No one reported subscribing to more than three lists. Of these respondents, 52 (88.1%) subscribe to the Greenstone User’s List; 25 (42.4%) to the Greenstone Developer’s List; 9 (15.3%) to Greenstone 3; and 8 (13.6%) to other lists. The other lists include one in Spanish (4 respondents), one in French (1 respondent), and a South Asia support list (3 respondents).

Some readers reported that they read email posted to the list(s) as a part of their daily or weekly activities. Others report that events prompt them to read the list email. These events include a need for information for a Greenstone project; notice of a topic of interest in a post; or the advent of spare time at work. One user indicated that s/he frequently read email on the lists when learning Greenstone, but tapered off as his/her level of proficiency with the software increased. Of those who indicated when they read list email (N=50), over half (27; 54%) read emails every day, every work day, or nearly every work day. Some (7; 14%) reported reading emails approximately weekly, and two (4.0%) about every month. Others reported reading emails “rarely”, “frequently”, and based on specific events.

Of the 70 respondents who answered questions related to email behaviors, 65 indicated at least one reason why s/he read email from the list. The mean number of reasons indicated by respondents was 4.54 (Standard Deviation=2.092; median=4; mode=4). The most frequently selected reasons for reading email from the list were (1) “To learn specific tips or details of Greenstone use” (freq.=58; 89.2%); and (2) “To find answers to specific questions” (freq.=55; 84.6%). Other reasons selected and the frequencies with which they were selected are presented in Table 1 below.

Table 1. Reasons given for why respondents read email messages posted on the email distribution lists. The number of respondents who indicated a given reason is given in frequency and based on the percent of the 65 participants who answered this question. “Other” reasons are presented in text below the table.

Reason Frequency Percent
To learn specific tips or details of Greenstone use 58 89.2%
To find answers to specific questions 55 84.6%
To learn more about Greenstone generally 42 64.6%
To keep up with Greenstone developments 40 61.5%
To learn more about how Greenstone is used 27 41.5%
To share my knowledge with other Greenstone users or developers 27 41.5%
To network or be a part of a community of Greenstone users or developers 25 38.5%
To learn more about who is using Greenstone 18 27.7%

Two other reasons given for reading messages posted to the email lists were to develop a list of Greenstone users and to view answers to questions posted by the respondent.

When asked “Have you ever posted a message to a Greenstone email list?” 42 respondents indicated s/he had, 25 that s/he hadn’t, and 3 indicated s/he did not remember. Respondents who remembered posting an email to one of the lists were asked to provide the reason for messages posted within the last year. A total of 40 people answered this question. The most frequently selected reason was “to get help” (freq.=35; 87.5% of people who answered this question). A substantial number indicated they posted to the list to help answer someone else’s question (freq.=24; 60% of respondents to this question). Eleven (15.1%) posted to the list to learn more about Greenstone. “Other” reasons given were to make an announcement and request new functionality.

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